Category Archives: Pär Jönsson

Collaboration to Reach Excellence in Education, Research and Ranking

During November 6-7, eight universities from Japan, Korea, China, Canada,Taiwan Germany, France and Sweden met in Sendai in Japan to discuss the possibilities to collaborate to reach excellence in education and research. The event was arranged by Tohoku University who has an overall aim to reach a top 10 ranking in the fields of Spintronics, Environmental & Earth Science, Cosmic Physics, Machine Science, and Materials Science. Together with the Director of Studies Anders Eliasson I attended a workshop focusing on materials science, where collaborations within the areas of “Metallurgy”, “Materials Science” and “Materials Processing” were discussed. Each university was given one hour each to explain the education of BSc, MSc and PhD students. In addition, visits to laboratories and meeting with students took place the second day. Here it was clear that the equipment at Tohoku University is very modern and advanced.

It is clear that it is difficult to collaborate with other universities on a Bachelor level, with the exception from the University of British Colombia in Vancouver. They already have 30% foreign students on their Bachelor programs, which all are given in English. On a MSc level, it is clear that the simplest way to reach a fruitful collaboration is by students carrying out MSc theses at a partner university. However, it is possible to create double degree programs with some universities.

It is also clear that it seems quite easy to collaborate on a PhD level with most universities. For example, Tohoku University has received at least 1 student per year from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering KTH during the last 15 years. During this meeting it was clear from discussions with several faculty members that more KTH students are welcome to carry out research in their groups.

One peculiar reflection was that the French universities got complain from the French authorities that they were ranked very low in international rankings. Then, a number of institutes and universities recently merged into the University of Lyon, which in total has 140 000 students (Yes! You read it correctly!). In this way they anticipate that they fast will obtain a higher ranking. I have an innovative solution, namely that we merge all science universities in Sweden to create the Royal Nobel University of Science!

No, I am kidding! We really need to reconsider what is important for us at KTH and not only consider ranking. Our main impact is through our undergraduate and graduate students. We need to give them a suitable “toolbox” so that they can contribute to developing societies in an innovative and sustainable manner!

/ Pär Jönsson, Deputy Head of School

ITM in Mozambique – Science Outreach

This time I want to share an experience I had last week in Maputo, Mozambique. I had been invited to give the opening speech at the conference organised by Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM). The title of the presentation was Ideas How to Stimulate a Sustainable and Innovative Research Development at UEM.

My trip started with an experience that illustrates how small the world is. On my way home from my last working day before traveling to Maputo I ran in to Fredrik Lundell. As we discussed we realised that Lars Geschwind that works with Fredrik, will get 2 PhD students from Maputo.  Then, I mailed Lars and got the information that the new students are part of a new program entitled Comparative Higher Education, Policy and Innovation Studies. In the end I could add this new happening to my talk. It would have been embarrassed if they would have asked me about Lars collaboration and I would not have known about it, especially since we are from the same school!

My talk focused on how research is done at KTH, impact, working environment as well as how to attract students to education and research. Here, I tried to give some examples from KTH where we for example use household waste as a raw material to produce both energy and bricks as well as how you can recycle cars and electronics. Specifically, focusing on important issues related to circular economy and sustainability and which are important to society as well as are attractive for potential students. Besides an audience from the academics from different countries, represents from embassies/financial institutions from Sweden, Belgium, The Netherlands and Italy participated. After my opening lecture, there was especially a large interest for how we could use household waste (landfills) as raw materials also in Mozambique and other neighbouring African countries. Especially, SIDA shown an interest in future research projects in the area of landfill mining.

The technical outcome from my trip seems to be a serious attempt to write a SIDA proposal on the use of landfills to produce energy and building materials. Here, the KTH researcher Weihong Yang will be important but we expect the collaboration with researchers from the Department of Energy and the Department of Industrial Economy and Management. Another potential scientific outreach from KTH could be a project focusing on cleaning of water from metals such as Hg, Cd and Pb. I know that our colleague Gunno Renman at the ABE school is an expert in the field and I have contacted him regarding this topic.

Besides the engineering talks at the conference, I also listened to other talks in a wide range of areas:  violence against women, traffic deaths, malnutrition of children, presence of heavy metals in food, lack of clean water, agricultural methods and biodiversity in nature. This definitely helped me to get another perspective on issues of importance for Mozambique.

As I was shown the neighbourhoods at the outskirts of Maputo I experienced the many temporary houses (“kåkstäder”). Then, I thought that it would be great if we could use the solid material that is left after combustion of household waste as an inexpensive building material for low-cost homes. I thought maybe it is even possible to use this solid waste material to 3D print houses in the future. Is it really possible to combine a fashionable high-tech method with a cheap rest product to influence the life of those in need…

/ Pär Jönsson, Deputy Head of School

Evaluation of research quality

In the academic world all researchers work hard to discover new findings, which will lead to great improvements in the scientific world. The leadership at universities monitors the success of groups/department with respect to the research quality. At KTH, this has been done at research evaluations (RAE) in 2008 and 2012.  It is not exactly clear when the next evaluation will be done, but a good guess is that it will take place in 2020.

Currently, I am in Helsinki to take part in a one week research evaluation of the materials science and metallurgy research at Aalto University, RAI2018. As a matter of fact I am also joined by our Head of School Jan Wikander, who has been invited to evaluate the mechanical engineering research at Aalto University. Overall, 45 scientist from all around the globe have been invited to this exercise. It is a very interesting experience that provides me and Jan with important input which we can share with the ITM researchers, so that they can be better prepared for a future evaluation at KTH.

One important thing with the evaluation is that each department should be compared to peers at other benchmark universities. Thus, there is not a focus on comparing department’s performances on a university level. This is very good since there exist different ways of publishing research results, having an impact on society, etc. So the focus should be on comparing how each department performs in comparison to similar departments elsewhere.

Aalto University is a fairly new university which in 2010 merged arts, business and engineering into one new school. What we have seen so far they have already been able to create new exciting collaborations. Maybe one interesting example is the production of textiles from forest-based raw material rest products that has been developed by engineers. Then, the art scientists have used these materials to produce fashion clothes that already have been shown on so called “cat walks”. Maybe later the business school will create business models on how these fashion clothes, produced based on recycled product, can be branded as a sustainable fashion!?

Overall, it seems like Aalto University has created an atmosphere which stimulates collaboration between different research groups and scientist. During the interviews it is clear that both PhD students and faculty thinks that laboratories have opened up so that basically everyone has access to all experimental equipment. Maybe something for us to think about…..

Pär Jönsson, Vice Head of School

Result of external revision and new Docents at ITM

The external revision of KTH and ITM to determine if we meet the environmental standards described in the Swedish standard ISO 14001 took place on April 16-20, for the ITM school. At the end of the revision week, it was clear that KTH passed the revision. I cannot refer to the whole document, but I wish to share some good examples from ITM that was highlighted in the revision document:

  • Minor field studies in the education, especially at INDEK (Anna Jerbrant)
  • Movie on “not another brick in the wall” illustrating the production of bricks and gases from landfill waste (New Mine – Weihong Yang project leader)
  • Digital information in form of youtube movies by, for example, Mikael Ersson
  • Documentation of impact of projects leading to an improved sustainability (Adde Jeihouni and Charlotte Flodin )

Many people were involved in the work with the external revision, but I especially wish to thank Adde Jeihouni and Charlotte Flodin,  who were responsible for the preparation and administrated of the ITM revision work. They did it in an excellent manner!

As I have discussed before, new Docents are important for ITM since they increase the number of people that can act as main supervisors.

Pavel Ramirex Lopez from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering has become a Docent in Casting. On Friday April 13 he held a Docent presentation entitled “Casting Research at Swerea MEFOS: Past Activities, Present Challenges and Future Perspectives”. The audience were close to 70 people, since it was held in connection to  department meeting organized by the Department Head Annika Borgenstam. Docent Ramirez is employed by Swerea-Mefos, but after becoming a Docent he will participate in both research and teaching at KTH.

Pernilla Ulfvengren from the Department of Industrial Economics and Management has become a Docent in industrial technology focusing on socio-technological systems. On Friday April 20 she held a Docent presentation entitled “Safety and change in sociotechnical systems”. The audience were 20 people mainly from the department.

Finally, I want to say that it was marvelous to finally get some sunny weather. I hurried up to plant potatoes in buckets and two new cherry trees in the ground. I could not wait any longer for the spring to come, after this long and cold winter!

Pär Jönsson, Vice Head of School

External revision and conferences

In my last blog I discussed the yearly safety inspections that ITM planned for March. By now we are waiting for the comments from Avanova for each department. Based on this each department will make a plan to correct possible less satisfactorily issues that came up during the inspections.

This time I wish to inform that an external revision of ITM’s work with environment will take place on April 16. The purpose with the revision is to make sure that ITM, as well as all schools at ITM, meet the environmental standards described in the Swedish standard ISO 14001. The ITM work is being administrated by Adde Jeihouni and Charlotte Flodin. Those of you that will be involved have already been contacted and the rest of you will get to know the outcome from the external revision when the report is written.

As a researcher my latest weeks have been full of traveling and new experiences. In the beginning of March I left Stockholm, which had just received lots of snow, to travel to Phoenix in Arizona. This was a contrast since the temperature was 20 to 25 C and the sun was shining all the time. It felt like a great break from the darkness in Sweden. I attended the yearly conference given by the minerals and metals society, TMS2018. It is a huge conference where it is difficult to find people. However, it is also a great meeting place where you can establish new contacts.  Here, I presented some work on how to determine inclusion cleanliness online during steelmaking. I got some good input that one of my PhD students could use in the future.

After a short stop in Stockholm I travelled to Japan to attend the annual spring conference organized by the Japanese steel society. I presented some work done by another PhD student on the use of recycled slags for neutralization of waste water in the steel industry. Again, I received very valuable input to the student’s research from the Japanese steel community. Also, I established some contact so that the PhD student can carry out research in Japan 2019, which he really is interested in.

Overall, my presentations and interactions with other researchers have paid off. Not only did I get valuable input that my PhD student scan use, but I also got some new information on new eco-friendly steelmaking processes that I can implement in the education.

/Pär Jönsson, Vice Head of School